I am on my way down a new path in my teaching career. Three weeks ago I made a last minute decision to apply for a Math TOSA (Teacher On Special Assignment) position. I had heard about the position last month, but thought against applying. I have so many things going on in my life, and I felt going for the TOSA job would be too much. However, the day before the application was due, I decided to at least apply for it. The process would be a good learning experience for me. After reading the book Mindset, by Carol Dweck. I am trying very hard to embrace the growth mindset. The problem was that I made the decision to go forward with applying the night before I was to turn in all the paper work. Fortunately, I was able to gather all the necessary papers and recommendations and turn my application in to the District Office by 4:00. A few days later I received a phone call for an interview.
The interview went well, I felt. I had prepared by thinking of possible questions I thought the interviewers would ask me the night before the interview. I got to my interview a few minutes early so I could go over my notes and meditate before-hand. I was calm, and I was ready when I was called into the little room. There were four people on the interview panel. It helped that I knew two of them. It’s always nice to see a friendly, familiar face when you are in these stressful situations. I was able to answer the questions thrown at me. Then, I was asked to watch a short video clip and provide feedback. I thought that was interesting. I liked that there was a task involved instead of just answering questions. The interview ended, and I was told that we would hear who was selected the next week. I forgot to ask how many people had applied, but I knew they were going to select five to serve as math coaches for the district.
The waiting game is difficult. It was Tuesday afternoon when I decided to just go home early from work. I was exhausted, and I wanted to spend some time with my three kids. I am normally at work until about 4:30, but on this day I left work around 3:15. I think I was a little disappointed that I hadn’t heard anything yet. I arrived home, talked to my daughters and helped with homework. The house phone rang at around 4:00 and my youngest daughter, Allison, picked it up. I was thinking to myself, “Who is calling me at 4:00 on the house phone?” Most friends and people I know call me on my cell phone. My daughter handed me the phone and it was one of the interviewers calling to tell me I got the job. 🙂 However, I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone about making it just yet. Things had to be completed on their end and a formal announcement would be made. When? I did not know. So, I went to work the next day unable to tell my friends. That was the most difficult thing to do. I was so happy and wanted to share my news. When they would ask me if I heard anything, I had to say no. My friends were starting to get a little angry about them not letting me know anything. Finally, an email was sent to the whole district announcing who the math coaches would be, and I could share my story.
Wow! I still can’t believe it. This means I will be spending next year out of the classroom. Instead I will be coaching other teachers and supporting them with their math instruction. Because our district is focusing on the Math CCSS, they are trying this new model of math coaches. I don’t think it has ever been done in my district this way. I explained at my interview that I did not profess to be a math whiz. In fact, I was a bit of a math phobic as a kid. I saw math as a set of rules and formulas that I had to memorize and remember. I could never remember! It was only as an adult, when I took my math methods courses in college for my teaching credential that I understood how important the conceptual foundation of teaching math was. It began to make sense to me. Even though I am not a math guru, I love teaching math. I know. . . strange. My husband joked with me when I told him I had applied for this job. He said, “You do know this is for MATH.” He knows math is not my strong suit. However, I am thinking I won’t necessarily be teaching math concepts. I will be coaching other teachers on best mathematical practices. I am just guessing, because I don’t really know yet.
Now the hard part really begins. I have to pack my classroom up. I have 25 years of stuff to go through. The good news is a few years ago, I moved from one classroom to another and got rid of a lot of things. But, now I have to dwindle it down even more. I have already been told by my husband that I cannot bring my boxes home. There is just no room at the inn! 🙂 I don’t know what I am going to do. I may have to think about renting a storage unit. The other thing I am wondering is how this is going to affect my work with the San Diego Area Writing Project. Since I am no longer in the classroom, I will not have a chance to practice writing strategies with students. In my interview, I explained to the panel that writing was another passion of mine. I am hoping I can incorporate what I have learned about writing instruction and merge it with math instruction. I am going to work hard to accomplish that. I think it will be just as beneficial for the teachers as it will be for students.
The position is only for a year. After that, I will have to return to the classroom. But, who knows? I will be done with my administrative credential work (I hope!). Then, I may be on an altogether different path in my teaching career. For now, I am just so happy to be on the path I am at the moment. I can’t wait for all the growth and learning that is waiting for me. It will be hard work, but I am also hoping it will be fun and fulfilling. We shall see. 🙂